MDC MPs on why Mugabe was more tolerant in 2005


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President Robert Mugabe was more tolerant of the Movement for Democratic Change during the run-up to the 2005 elections because either he had a plan of ensuring that the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front would win without resorting to violence or he wanted the MDC to win because he had no clear successor.

This was the opinion of two sitting MDC Members of Parliament Willias Madzimure and Job Sikhala who predicted that the MDC would win 60 seats or more in the elections.

Asked by United States ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell why there was less violence in the run-up to the elections Madzimure said he was worried that Mugabe had some other plan for ensuring ZANU-PF supremacy, perhaps in the counting of the ballots, and that he knew he would not need to rely on violence.

He said Mugabe might also have been influenced by international pressure and by a desire to ensure that the elections were seen as legitimate.

Mugabe knew that political violence might not work in ZANU-PF’s favour and that, if ZANU-PF must lose, it would be better to lose in a peaceful environment.

Sikhala suggested that Mugabe might even want the MDC to win because he had no clear successor in ZANU-PF and that the MDC would treat a retired Mugabe better than would members of a factionalised ZANU-PF with scores to settle.

Madzimure and Sikhala said another possibility was that Mugabe falsely believed that ZANU-PF would win the elections without violence because his advisors were lying to him about ZANU-PF’s prospects.

They also suggested that Mugabe might be concerned with protecting his legacy and wanted a peaceful election before he stepped down.

Madzimure and Sikhala said, however, that ZANU-PF would not win Matabeleland without Jonathan Moyo because the Ndebele did not identify with John Nkomo and had no other emotional ties to ZANU-PF.

 

Full cable:


Viewing cable 05HARARE384, MDC CANDIDATES OPTIMISTIC

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Reference ID

Created

Released

Classification

Origin

05HARARE384

2005-03-10 06:30

2011-08-30 01:44

CONFIDENTIAL

Embassy Harare

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 HARARE 000384

 

SIPDIS

 

AF/S FOR BNEULING

NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE, D. TEITELBAUM

 

E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/31/2010

TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM ZI MDC

SUBJECT: MDC CANDIDATES OPTIMISTIC

 

Classified By: Charge d’Affaires, a.i. Eric T. Schultz under Section 1.

4 b/d

 

1. (C) SUMMARY: The Ambassador met February 23 with three

MDC officials: sitting Ministers of Parliament Willias

Madzimure and Job Sikhala who are defending their seats, and

MDC candidate for Parliament Goodrich Chibaira. The

candidates were optimistic that the MDC would do well in the

elections, especially given that political violence was much

lower than in the past. They offered various theories as to

why President Mugabe had directed that the elections be

non-violent, including international pressure, a desire to

retire gracefully, or because he was falsely confident that

ZANU-PF could win without violence. The three MDC officials

agreed that a government of national unity following the

elections might provide a resolution to Zimbabwe,s crisis.

END SUMMARY.

 

 

————

Less Political Violence

————

 

2. (C) Willias Madzimure and Job Sikhala are both incumbent

MDC M.P.s in constituencies in Harare and are running in the

March 31 election. Goodrich Chibaira, also an MDC candidate

in a Harare constituency, is a first-time candidate. All

three MDC officials reported continuing low levels of

violence compared to 2000 and 2002. There were some

incidents. Sikhala for instance said there had been some

altercations between ZANU-PF and MDC supporters after one of

the rallies in Harare and that the police had not arrested

the ZANU-PF supporters who had inciteded the incidents.

However, Sikhala and Madzimure confirmed that levels of

violence were clearly lower this election.

 

3. (C) Sikhala attributed the lack of violence to President

Mugabe,s public statements that no political violence would

be tolerated. This marked a major change from the past, when

Mugabe himself called for and incited violence. Even lower

levels of party and government structures were heeding the

call for non-violence, albeit reluctantly. Sikhala said the

MDC leadership had barred officials from verbally attacking

Mugabe personally and that Mugabe was also attacking MDC as

an institution rather than individuals within the party.

Madzimure also noted that in contrast with past elections,

there was no military command center running the ZANU-PF

campaign. Sikhala added that Mugabe and Mujuru were

themselves campaigning instead of using soldiers and war

veterans to campaign. Without Mugabe directing violence and

with the reduced involvement of the military and war

veterans, all three officials predicted there would be very

little violence this time.

 

—-

But Why?

—-

 

4. (C) In response to the Ambassador,s question as to why

there was less violence, Madzimure said he worried that

Mugabe had some other plan for ensuring ZANU-PF supremacy,

perhaps in the counting of the ballots, and that he knew he

would not need to rely on violence. He said Mugabe might

also have been influenced by international pressure and by a

desire to ensure that the elections were seen as legitimate.

Mugabe knew that political violence might not work in

ZANU-PF,s favor and that, if ZANU-PF must lose, it would be

better to lose in a peaceful environment. Sikhala suggested

that Mugabe might even want the MDC to win because he had no

clear successor in ZANU-PF and that the MDC would treat a

retired Mugabe better than would members of a factionalized

ZANU-PF with scores to settle. Madzimure and Sikhala said

another possibility was that Mugabe falsely believed that

ZANU-PF would win the elections without violence because his

advisors were lying to him about ZANU-PF,s prospects.

Finally, both Madzimure and Sikhala suggested that Mugabe

might be concerned with protecting his legacy and wanted a

peaceful election before he stepped down.

 

—–

MDC Prospects

—–

5. (C) Madzimure and Sikhala both predicted the MDC would win

with 60 seats or more out of 120 elected seats, due to

voters, awareness that ZANU-PF had done nothing in five

years to improve their daily lives. They said that, with

continued low levels of political violence, Zimbabweans would

feel free to vote as they wished — for the MDC. Madzimure

said that voters were most interested in better employment,

pensions, health, and education, and knew that ZANU-PF did

not care about those issues. Sikhala added that ZANU-PF had

won the last election by fraud but with more open elections

this time, they would not win a majority of the elected seats

or an overall two-thirds majority. The MDC would retain its

ability to block unilateral constitutional change and could

force ZANU-PF to the negotiating table.

National Unity Government?

————-

 

6. (C) Madzimure said that a source of his within ZANU-PF had

heard top party leaders discussing the possibility of

negotiating a national government of unity with the MDC. The

MDC leadership was also quietly discussing this possibility,

in particular as a means to a new constitution. Sikhala said

that some MDC supporters would not be happy with the idea of

a power-sharing arrangement because they counted on the MDC

to provide new ideas after years of ZANU-PF mismanagement of

politics and the economy. However, following a discussion of

what the MDC might gain from a place in government, such as

the ability to deliver services to constituents and the like,

he embraced the idea along with his colleagues as a way

forward that could resolve Zimbabwe,s crisis peacefully.

Madzimure added that ZANU-PF leaders were willing to consider

unity with the MDC due to deep divisions within ZANU-PF.

There was a backlash against the Zezuru ethnic group to which

Mugabe and Vice-President Joyce Mujuru belonged and an

anti-Zezuru group was forming to counter a perceived attempt

by Mugabe to fill all top leadership positions with Zezuru.

 

Moyo,s Legacy?

————–

 

7. (C) Madzimure and Sikhala said ZANU-PF would not win

Matabeleland without Jonathan Moyo because the Ndebele did

not identify with John Nkomo and had no other emotional ties

to ZANU-PF. Sikhala said that Moyo was running as an

independent solely as retribution against ZANU-PF because his

candidacy would split the ZANU-PF vote and ensure that

ZANU-PF candidate could not win.

 

Outside Influence

————–

 

8. (C) All MDC candidates agreed that international pressure

was an important factor in ZANU-PF,s decision to reduce the

level of political violence. They expressed appreciation for

U.S. policy toward Zimbabwe but Sikhala said he thought

Zimbabwe should not be compared with the other &outposts of

tyranny,” Most of which had never had elections. Mugabe had

always had elections, even if they were &done wrong.8

 

Comment

——-

 

9. (C) The lower levels of political violence thus far in the

campaign period are significant and as we have said elsewhere

may produce a surprise. If the MDC wins at least 51 seats,

it would retain its ability to block constitutional change.

This could force ZANU-PF to negotiate with the MDC and might

lead to calls, including especially from South Africa, for a

government of national unity. This was the first time we

have heard MDC officials openly discuss such a prospect and

it was interesting to see how quickly they convinced

themselves that this could be a way forward after the

election. They could be right. Civil society activists

might accuse the MDC of selling out but if such a government

led to real change, including paving the way for Mugabe,s

departure, it might merit support.

SCHULTZ

(32 VIEWS)

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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